Chinese state media outlets published several reports on Tuesday and Wednesday hinting at a foreign, Western origin for the Chinese coronavirus, including confirmation of cases in California in February and remarks by a New Jersey mayor who said he felt sick last year.
Chinese authorities confirmed in January that the Chinese coronavirus originated at a wild meat and seafood market in Wuhan, central China, where the first cases of the virus were also documented. Documents obtained by journalists indicate Chinese doctors identified the first Chinese coronavirus case on November 17, 2019. Yet the Global Times and People’s Daily, two government-run outlets, insisted that cases documented in the West much later show that Wuhan is not the “definite birthplace” of the virus.
The Global Times published a story on Tuesday highlighting the discovery of a French patient carrying the virus on December 27, over a month after leaked Chinese documents say Wuhan confirmed its first case. Calling it a “stunning scientific find,” the Times insisted that this was proof that the origin location of the Chinese coronavirus was “still a mystery.”
“Earlier, in Santa Clara County, California, local physicians announced that an autopsy confirmed the first coronavirus death in the populous US state happened on February 6,” the Times insisted. “Like what were ascertained or known to date, China’s Wuhan city was on the same timeline as California and Paris reporting the mysterious disease.”
Residents in Wuhan told journalists in early reports that they were aware of a contagious disease spreading in late 2019, placing Wuhan far ahead of the timelines that places like California and France were witnessing.
The Global Times also continued its campaign against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said in an interview on Sunday that “enormous evidence” exists linking not just the city of Wuhan, but the Wuhan Institute of Virology – a biological laboratory that has spent years studying highly contagious coronaviruses – with the current pandemic.
“The U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, including Pompeo, keep spreading lies and misleading domestic and international audiences without any evidence to prove their suspicion,” the Global Times proclaimed, using the fact that most scientific studies concur that the Chinese coronavirus occurred naturally to attempt to discredit Pompeo’s comments. Pompeo has not accused the Wuhan Institute of Virology of genetically modifying a coronavirus to create the pathogen currently fueling the pandemic.
The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, attempted to corroborate the allegation that Wuhan was not the origin location of the Chinese coronavirus on Wednesday by reprinting remarks by the mayor of Belleville, New Jersey, who recently tested positive for antibodies against the virus, meaning he had at one point been infected.House Oversight Committee / YouTube
Mayor Michael Melham said that he experienced fevers, chills, and other telltale signs of the Chinese coronavirus in November; he did not travel to China or come into contact with anyone recently traveling to China that he knew of, though he did attend a conference at the time. The conference occurred in November 21, after the Chinese documents revealed the first Chinese case to have been confirmed in Wuhan.
China’s repeated rejections of all evidence that indicate the virus originated in Wuhan contradict the declarative assertions from Chinese scientists in January insisting the virus came from a Wuhan seafood market.
“The origin of the new coronavirus is the wildlife sold illegally in a Wuhan seafood market,” Gao Fu, director of China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that month.
“The outbreak was initially detected in a seafood market, but was localized,” Chinese professor Yang Zhanqiu told the Global Times in January.
The People’s Daily published an article on January 27 titled “Experts Confirm Wuhan Seafood Market Was Source of Novel Coronavirus.”
“China Center for Disease Control reported on Sunday that 33 out of the 585 samples collected from the seafood market tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus which caused the pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan,” the article read. “The virus was confirmed to have come from the wildlife sold at the market.”
On January 23, a group of Chinese scientists published a study claiming the virus originated in a Chinese species of snake – another claim later dismissed, as scientists now believe the animal where the virus originated was likely a bat or pangolin, a type of anteater.
Chinese scientists later published a report claiming that the virus had not originated in the Wuhan. As Chinese authorities immediately shut down the market and “disinfected” it, it is impossible for independent scientific researchers to conduct their own studies on the claim.
In January, state media outlets were insisting that the outbreak in Wuhan was “no cause for panic” and that no evidence existed that the virus was contagious, contradicting Wuhan doctors witnessing the outbreak first-hand.
Chinese police arrested and reprimanded eight individuals early during the outbreak for sharing information online about the virus, including safety tips for preventing the spread of a contagious disease like wearing masks and washing one’s hands.